I confess that I may have been a little hard on the Willow Creek Leadership Summit on today’s show, but I think we live in a time when tough questions and a tough self-examination is sometimes necessary. By no means are we saying you should not attend, just understand that not every leader presented lines up with biblical truths and worldview.
But I think the most important question we need to examine is this: What is leadership? Leadership is being defined many different ways these days, and one of the ways is that a leader is an influencer. But then don’t we have to examine what kind of influence a leader has—after all there is negative and positive influence.
Servant Leadership is also a big buzz word these days. But sometimes servant leadership can just be code words for manipulating those we lead to get them on to our agenda. Sometimes it is making people feel they are important and valued, when in reality the real goal is to increase productivity and profitability to the organization.
To me a true Christian leader is one who helps those he leads productively and effectively serve and love God. It is not about the leader’s agenda—it’s about God’s agenda. Too often we see leaders who expect all sorts of privileges with leadership—wealth, fame and other perks. The only problem with that is where is the biblical foundation for that? What did Jesus gain by taking human form and dying on the cross? The only agenda He served was that of His heavenly Father—to become the perfect sacrifice for sin, paying the price for sin that no man could, so others might come into rightful relationship with God.
What about Paul? What perks did he receive as a leader? He lived off the charity of others with no place of his own, no retirement income and spent a great deal of time being beaten or imprisoned for the gospel.
Unfortunately these days leadership has often been turned into a self-serving form of narcissism where the only person who truly benefits is the leader. Name it claim it pastors living in multi-million dollar mansions and driving a fleet of Cadillacs, along with personal jets. Leadership—true Christian leadership—calls for personal sacrifice. But these days many leaders are all about the perks, not the sacrifices of leadership.
I am not in any way accusing Willow Creek leadership of acquiring excessive gain from their leadership summit. I don’t know the leaders and I have no reason to believe they are gaining anything personally from this event. My concern with the conference is how it is continually morphing into a social justice conference, more concerned with solving the world’s problems instead of advancing the only solution to the depravity of man—the gospel of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
Look, of course we are to be light and salt to the world. We need to show the love and hope of Jesus Christ to everyone we encounter, and one way we can do that is by helping the poor. But it is a very short step from helping the poor so we can share the gospel, to believing helping the poor is our gospel. No matter how much money we pour into social justice programs, there will always be poor people, wars, famine and pestilence. We need to be very careful that we do not misunderstand our calling and mission straight from Jesus’ mouth: Go make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Man cannot solve all the problems of this world and Jesus said if he does not return at the appointed time, no flesh would be spared.
So by all means help the poor and stand up for true biblical justice. But be careful who is defining “social justice” because many who are doing so oppose clear biblical doctrine on sins like homosexuality and abortion. Their idea of ‘justice” doesn’t necessarily line up with God’s.
So if you are attending this weekend, I hope your time is blessed. But just be careful about what you hear and choose to believe at the summit—as always take it to the Word of God to discern truth from deception.
- Social Justice: The guise of helping the poor (standupforthetruth.com)
- The Liberal Roots of the Emergent Church (lamblion.us)
- Blindly Following our Leaders? (standupforthetruth.com)
- Oprah, Hybels join star-studded “Triumphant Journey” gala honoring T.D. Jakes (standupforthetruth.com)
- Oprah Winfrey, Bill Hybels Help Celebrate 35 Years of T.D. Jakes (christianresearchnetwork.org)
- Why I Won’t Be Attending Willow Creek’s Leadership Summit Again This Year (standupforthetruth.com)